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Title:
POWER OPERATED ROTARY KNIFE WITH NOTCHED ROTARY KNIFE BLADE AND TRIM GUIDE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/019479
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A combination of a rotary knife blade and a trim guide for a power operated rotary knife. The annular rotary knife blade supported for rotation about a central axis of rotation in a direction of rotation and rotating with respect to the trim guide, the knife blade including a blade section extending from an annular body, the lower end of the blade section defining a plurality of circumferentially spaced apart notches including an opening at the lower end and a central open portion defined by a peripheral wall, the peripheral wall including an arcuate cutting portion adjacent the lower end of the blade section. The trim guide including a guide section defining a plurality of circumferentially spaced apart notches extending from a lower end, each of the plurality of notches including a shearing portion in overlapping axial alignment with the arcuate cutting portions of the blade section.

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Inventors:
HALL, Joel L. (19349 Cyclone Drive, Cleveland, Ohio, 44135, US)
PAGANO, Terrence L. (9424 Potomac Drive, North Royalton, Ohio, 44133, US)
STUMP, Kevin V. (22605 Quarry Road, Wellington, Ohio, 44090, US)
Application Number:
US2016/043484
Publication Date:
February 02, 2017
Filing Date:
July 22, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BETTCHER INDUSTRIES, INC. (6801 State Route 60, Birmingham, Ohio, 44889, US)
International Classes:
B26B25/00; A22B5/00; A22B5/16; A22C17/00; A22C17/04; A22C17/12; B26B7/00
Foreign References:
US20130219726A12013-08-29
US20140250697A12014-09-11
US20030084576A12003-05-08
US20130025138A12013-01-31
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
YIRGA, John A. (Tarolli, Sundheim Covell & Tummino, LLP,1300 East Ninth Street,Suite 170, Cleveland Ohio, 44114, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What Is claimed isj

1. A power operated rotary kai & comprising;

aa annular rotary knife blade supported for rotation abou a central axis of rotation in a direction of rotation and Hea n with respect io 8 «½ guide, the knife blade including an annular body including aa inner w«li *wd a« outer wall sad an «pper end and a lower end, the annular body of the rotary knife blade including a bearing surface for rotation*! support of die rotary knife blade and a drives gear for totationaliy driving the rotary knife blade, the rotary knife blade ftjrtto Including a blade section extending from fee lower end ofihe annular body, tlie blade section including a blade i istocoRicBil wall extmdlrsg between an oppcr end of the blade section and a lower end of the blade section, the lower end of the blade section spaced sudlaOy inwardly from and axiaily below the upper end, a plurality of oii nferentiaHy spaced apart notches extending S¾m fee lower end of the blade sectios into the blade frastoconical wall, eac of fee plurality of notches including an opening at the lower end and a central open portion defined by a peripheral wall, tfce peripheral wail including a cutting portion, the catting portion of each of the plurality of circumfcre^&l! spaced apart notches defining a catting edge oftb* ro&ry knife bladej and

& trim guide including & base and a guide section extending radially Inwardly and sxlally downwardly from the haSe, the guide section extending axiaily below and being adjacent to the blade section of the rotary knife blade and Including a guide frusfoconical well extending etween an upper end of fee guide section and a lower end of fee pide section, the lower end of fee guide section spaced radially inwardly from fee upper end, a plurality ofoitciimfereniislly spaced apart notches extending from fee lower end Into the guide frustoconlcal wall, each of the plurality of notches Including as opening at fee lower end sad a central open portion defined by a peripheral wsli> fee peripheral wall including ¾ sheering portion, fee shearing portion In overlapping axial alignment with fee catting portions of fee plurality of notches of the blade section of fee rotary knife blade as the rotary blade rotates about fee oencral axis of rotation.

2. The power operated rotary knife of claim 1 wherein fee cutting portion ofeaoh of the plurality of notches of the blade section of fee rotary knife blade are arcuate.

3. The power operated rotary knife of claim 1 wherein the cutting portion of each of the plurality of notches of fee blade section of fee rotary knifc blade define a trailing end of the notch wife respect to fee direction of rotation of fee blade.

4. The ower operated rotary knife of claim S wherein she fower end of the guide section of the trim guide extends radially inwardly of the lower nd of the blade section of the rotary knife blade.

5. The power operated mtary knife of claim i wherein the lower end of the guide ssstlon of fee trim guide extends axislly below the lower end the blade? section of die rotary knife blade.

6. The power operated rotary knife of claim 1· wherein the trim guide includes a circumferential rib that extends feom the base, the circemferentmi rib extending axiaily above and radially outwardly ofthe annn!sr body of the blade section.

7. The power operated rotary knife of claim 1 wherein the cutting portion of each of tfee plurality of notches ofthe blade section of defining iho cutting edge ofthe rotary knife blado is adjacent the lower end o he blade section.

8. The power operated rotary knife of claim i wherein the shearing portion of eaoh oflhe plurality of notches ofthe gaide section ofthe trim gnide is adjacent the lower end of the si da section.

9. The power operated rotary knife of claim 1 urt er including a vacuum conneoior coupled to the blade housing, ifes vacuum conaee&sr releasabry coupled to the trim guide arid including m inrnt sarfi.ee defining a fiautei-shapod !ntmor region, the- acuum connector including m npper cylindrical section, a tapered middle section snd s larger diameter lower mounting section, lower mounting section including a trim guide interface portion including en srouate rim portion and a ktoh extending from the arcuate rim portion,, the trim guide further including « guard section extendfr-g axiaiiy upwardly from the base and having a radially iawawiry extending Hp, fee latch ofthe trim guide Interface portion of the vacuum connector releasably seoured to the radially Inwardly extending Up ofthe guard section ofthe trim guide to rdeasabiy coap!e the vacuum connector to the trim guide,

10. A comblnafion of an annular rotary knife blade and a trim guide for a power operated rotary knife, the combination comprising:

the annular rotary knife blade snpported for rotation about a central axis of rotation in a direction of rotation and rotating with respect to the trim guide, the kni t¾ blade including an annular body including an inner wail and an enter wall and an upper end and a lower end, the aramlar body ofthe rotary knife blade including a bearing surfece for rotational support o the ro&ry knife blade and a driven gear for rotationslly driving the rotary knife blade, the rotary knife blade ferther inolndlng a blade section extending from the lower end of the annular body,

3? the blade section Including § btade fj¾sto«»alca3 wall extending bet een m upper end of the blsde section and a lower end of the blade section, the lo er end of t e lsde- section sp ced radially inwardly from and axiair below fes upper end, a plurality of ciireurn&resiialiy spaced apart notches extending from the lows? end of the blade section Into the blade fi¾stoconical well, each of the plsiralit^ of notches including an op ning at the l er end and a central o es portion defined by a peripheral waii, the peripheral wall including & cutting portion, the cutting portion of each of&e l rality of chc mfeiefttia!ly spaced apart notch es deft ning a cutting edge of the rotaty knife hiade;

the trim gaide including & bs.se sod & guide section extending radially inwardly and axiafiy downwardl ftom the base, he guide sectio extending axially bciow and being adjacent to the blade section of the rotary knife blade and including a guide frusioconieai wall ex nding between an upper end of fee guide section and a lower end of he guide section, the lower end of the guide section spaced radially inwardly from the upper end, & plurality of circumferential!)' spaced apart notches extending 8¾SK the lower end into the guide frustoconieai wall, each of the plurality of notches including as opening at the lower end and ¾ central open portion defined by a peripheral wall, the peripheral wail including a s earing portion, the shearing portion in everlapping axial alignment wi h the cutting portions of the plurality of notches of the blade section of the rotary knife blade as the rotary blade rotates about the central axis of rotation in the direction of rotation.

i 1. The combination of claim 10 wherein the cutting portion of each of the plurality of notches of the blade section of fee rotaay knife blade are arcuate,

12. The combination of claim 10 wherein the arcuate portion of each of the plurality of notches of the blade section of defining the cutting edge of&e biade ro sry blade define a trailing end of the notch with respect to the direction of rotation of he biade,

13. The combination of claim 10 wherein the lower end of the guide section ofi s trim guide extends radially inwardly of the lower end of the blade section of she rotary knife blade,

14. The combination of claim 10 wherein the lower end of the guide section of the trim guide extends axiaily below the lower end One blade section of the rotary knife biade,

15. The combination of claim 10 wherein the trim guide Includes a circurnferentt&l rib that extends from the base, the circumferential rib extending sxiaily above and radially outwardly of the annular body of the blade section, a

16. The combination ©f claim 10 wherein she cutting portion of each of the plurality of notches of the blade section of defining the cutting edge of the blade rotary blade is adjacent the lower end of the blade section.

17. The combination ofcteun 10 wherein the shearing portion of each of the plurality of notches of the guide session of fee trim guide is adjacent the lower end of the guide section.

18. AH annular rotary knife blade for a power operated rotary knife, the annular rotary knife blade supporissl for rotation about a central axis of rotation by s n annular blade housing of the power operated rotary knife, the annular rotary knife blade corapri sing:

an annular body including an inner wall and an outer wall and an upper end and a lower end, the annular body of the rotary knife blade including a bearing surface for rotational support of the rotary knife blade and a driven gear for .otationelly driving he rotary knife blade, the rotary knife blade Salfeer including a blade section extending f om the low end of the annular body, fee blade section Including a blade ftustoconical wall extending between an upper end of the blade section and a lower end of the blade section, the lower end of the blade section spaced radially inwardly from and ssds!!y below fee upper end, * plu ality of circomferentlally spaced apart notches extending from the lower end of the blade section Into the blade rrustocomcal wali, each of the plurality of notches including an opening at the lower end and a central open portion defined by a peripheral wait, the peripheral wall including a cutting porsion, the cutting portion of each of fee plurality ofoireunrferentiaUy spaced apart notches defin ing a gutting edge of the rotary knife blade.

19» A trim guide for a power operated rotary knife having an annular rotary knife blade supported for rotation by an annular blade housing about a central axis of rotation, the annular rotary knife blade rotating wife respect to the trim guide, the trim guide comprising; a base and a guide section extending radially inwardly and axial ly downwardly from fee base, the guide section extending axially below and being adjacent t» the Wade section of the rotary knife blade and includiag a guide frustoeomea! wall extending between an upper end of the guide section and a lower end of fee guide section, fee lower end of fee guide section spaced radially inwardly irom fee upper end, a plurality o circumfcrentlaHy spaced apart not hes extending from the lower end Into the guide ftusioconicai wsll, each of the plurality of notches including as opening at the lower end and a central open portion defined by a peripheral wail, the peripheral wall including a shearing portion.

20. The trha guide of claim 19 further litetoding a guard section extending axially upvrajrdly fens fee base and having a radially inwardly extending lip.

Description:
TITLE: POWER OPERATED ROTARY KNIFE WITH NOTCHED ROTARY KNIFE BLADE AND TRIM GUIDE

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[00Θ1] The following application claims priority to co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 62/196,973, filed July 25, 2015 entitled Power Operated Rotary Knife With Notched Rotary Knife Blade and Trim Guide. The above-identified U.S. provisional patent application (serial no. 62/196,973) is fully incorporated herein by reference in its entirety for any and all purposes.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present disclosure relates to a power operated rotary knife including a notched annular rotary knife blade and a notched annular trim guide, the notched trim guide directing elements to be cut into position for cutting between recessed, sharpened regions or cutting portions of the rotary knife blade against recessed shearing portions of the notched trim guide.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Power operated rotary knives are widely used in meat processing facilities for meat cutting and trimming operations. Power operated rotary knives also have application in a variety of other industries where cutting and/or trimming operations need to be performed quickly and with less effort than would be the case if traditional manual cutting or trimming tools were used, e.g., long knives, scissors, nipper?, etc. By way of example, power operated rotary knives may he effectively utilized for such diverse tasks as taxidermy : cutting and trimm ing of eiastomeric or urethane foam for a variety of applications including vehicle seats: and tissue removal or debriding in connection with medical/surgical procedures and/or tissue recovery orn a body of a human or animal donor,

[0004] Power operated rotary knives typically include a head assembly and an elongated handle assembly releasabiy affixed to the head assembly. The handle assembly extends along a longitudinal, axis and includes a hand piece having a gripping surface to be grasped by an operator or user to manipulate the power operated rotary knife. The handle assembly may include a central core or other attachment structure to releasabiy attach the handle assembly to the head assembly. [0005] The head assembly includes an annular blade housing and an annular rotary knife blade supported for rotation by the blade housing. The annular rotary blade of conventional power operated rotary knives is typically rotated by a drive assembl which include a flexible shaft drive assembly extending through an opening in the handle assembly. The shaft drive assembly engages and rotates a drive train, such as, for example, a pinion gear supported by the head assembly. The flexible shaft drive assembly includes a stationary outer sheath and a roiatabie interior drive shaft which is driven by an electric motor. Gear teeth of the pinion gear engage mating gear teeth formed on an upper surface of the rotary knife blade. Alternately, a pneumatic motor disposed in a throughbore of the handle assembly may be used to drive the pinion gear supported by the head assembly which, in turn, rotates the rotary knife blade.

[0006] Upon rotation of the pinion gear by the drive shaft of the flexible shaft drive assembly, the annular rotary blade rotates within the blade housing at a high RPM, on the order of 500 - 1500 RPM, depending on the structure and characteristics of the drive assembly Including the motor, the shaft drive assembly, and a diameter and the number of gear teeth formed on the rotary knife blade. Conventional power operated rotary' knives are disclosed in U.S. Fat. Nos. 6,354,949 to Bans et al ., 6,751 ,872 to Waited et al., 6,769, 184 to Whited, and 6,978,548 to Whited et aL all of which are assigned to the assignee of the present invention and all of which are incorporated herein in their respective entireties by reference.

SUMMARY

[0007 { In one aspect, the present disclosure relates to a power operated rotary k nife comprising: an annular rotary knife blade supported for rotation about a central axis of rotation in a direction of rotation and rotating with respect to a trim guide, the knife blade including an annular body including an inner wall and an outer wall and an upper end and a lower end. the annular body of the rotary knife blade including a bearing surface for rotational support of the rotary knife blade and a driven gear for rotational ly driving the rotary knife blade, the rotary knife blade further including a blade section extending from the Sower end of the annular body, the blade section including & blade frustoconical wall extending between an upper end of the blade section and a lower end of She blade section, the lower end of the blade section spaced radially inwardly from and axially below the upper end, a plurality of circumferentiaily spaced apart notches extending from the lower end of the blade section into the blade frustoconical wall, each of the plurality of iiotches including an opening at the lower end a nd a central open portion defi ned by a peripheral wail, the peripheral wail including a cutting portion, the cutting portion 16 043484

of each of the plurality of circumferentlaily spaced apart notches defining a cutting edge of the ror&ry knife biade; and a trim guide including a base and a guide section extending radially inwardly and axially downwardly from the base, the guide section extending axially below and bemg adjacent to the biade section of the rotary knife blade and including a guide frustoconical wall extending between an upper end of the guide section and a lower end of the guide section, the lower end of the guide section spaced radially inwardly from the upper end, a plurality of circumferentially spaced apart notches extending from the Sower end into the guide frustoconical wall, each of the plurality of notches including as opening at the lower end and a central open portion defined by a peripheral wall, the peripheral waii including a shearing portion, the shearing portion in overlapping axial alignment with the cutting portions of the plurality of notches of the blade section of the rotary knife blade as the rotary blade rotates about the central axis of rotation.

fOOOS] In another aspect, the present disclosure relates to a com bination of an annular rotary knife blade and a trim guide for a power operated rotary knife, the combination comprising: the annular rotary knife blade supported for rotation abou t a central axis of rotation in a direction of rotation and rotating with respect to the trim guide, the knife blade including an annular body including an inner wall and an outer wall and an upper end and a lower end, the annular body of the rotary knife biade including a bearing surface for rotational support of the rotary knife blade and a driven gear for roMionafly driving the rotary knife blade, the rotary knife blade further including a blade section extending from the lower end of the annular body, the biade section including a blade frustoconical wall extending between an upper end of the blade section and a lower end of the blade section, the lower end of the blade section spaced radially inwardly from and axially below the upper end, a plurality of circumferentially spaced apart notches extending from the lower end of the blade section, into the blade frustoconical wall, each of the plurality of notches including an opening at die lower end and a central open portion defined by a peripheral wall, the peripheral waii including an arcuate cutting portion, the arcuate cutting portion of each of the plurality of circumferentially spaced apart notches defining a cutting edge of the rotary knife blade; and the trim guide Including a b se and a guide section extending radially inwardly and axially downwardly from the base, the guide section extending axially below and being adjacent to the blade section of the rotary knife blade and including a guide frsastoconicai wail extending between an upper end of the guide s ection and a lower end of the guide section, the lower end of the guide section spaced radially inwardly from the upper end, a plurality of circumferentially spaced apart notches extending from the lower end into the guide fhistoeonical wail, each of the plurality of notches including as opening at the lower end and a central open portion defined by a peripheral wail, the peripheral wall including a shearing portion, the shearing portion in overlapping axial alignment, with the cutting portions of the plurality of notches of the blade section of the rotary knife blade as the rotary blade rotates about the central axis of rotation,

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0(109] The foregoing and other features and advantages of the present disclosure will become apparent to one skilled in the art to which the present disclosure relates upon consideration of the following description of the disclosure with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals, unless otherwise described refer to like parts throughout the drawings and in which:

[0010] Figure i is a schematic top front perspective view of a first exemplary embodiment of a power operated rotary knife of the present disclosure including a handle assembly, a head assembly, including a notched annular rotary knife blade, a blade housing and a notched trim guide;

[0011] Figure 2 is a schematic top plan view of the power operated rotary' knife of Figure i ;

[00121 Figure 3 is a schematic bottom pl&n view of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 1 ;

[0013] Figure 4 is a schematic top, front perspecti ve view of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure I , including a frame, the notched annular rotary knife blade, a blade housing, and the notched trim guide and with a pivoting thumb-piece assembly removed for clarity;

[0014] Figure 5 is a schematic exploded top, front perspective view of the head assembly of Figure 4;

[0015] Figure 6 is a schematic bottom plan view of the frame of the head assembly of Figure 4;

[0016] Figure 7 is a schematic top plan view of a combination of the notched annular rotary knife blade, the blade housing, and the notched trim guide of the head assembly of t he power operated rotary knife of Figure 3 ; 3484

|¾01?| Figure S is a schematic bottom plan view of the combination of the notched annular rotary knife blade, the blade housing, and the notched trim guide of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 1;

[6018] Figure 9 is a schematic section view of the combination of the notched annular rotary knife blade, the blade hous ing, and the notched trim, guide of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 1 , as seen from a plar.e indicated by the line 9-9 in Figure

[001 ] Figure 10 is a schematic top, front perspective view of the notched annular rotary knife blade of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 1 ;

Θ02Θ] Figure 3 1 is a schematic top plsn view of the noiched annular rotary knife blade of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 1 ;

[§021] Figure 12 is a schematic bottom plan vie w of the notched annular rotary knife blade of the head assembl of the power operated rotary knife of Figure i ;

[00221 Figure 13 is a schematic, section view of the noiched annular rotary knife blade of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 1 , as seen from a plane indicated by the line 13- 13 in Figure 1 i ;

[0023] Figure 13A is a -schematic section view of an end portion of the notched annular rotary knife blade depicted in the section view of Figure 13:

[0024] Figure 14 is a schematic top, front perspective view of the notched trim guide of the head assembly of She ow r operated rotary knife of Figure ; :

[0O25J Figure 15 is a schematic top plan view of the noiched trim guide of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 1 ;

[0026} Figure 16 is a schematic boitoro plan view of the notched trim guide of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure I ;

[0027] Figure i 7 is a schematic section view of the notched trim guide of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 1 , as seen from a plane indicated by the line 17-17 in Figure 15;

[0028] Figure 18 is a schematic front elevation view of the bl ade housing of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 1 ;

[0029] Figure 19 is a schematic section view of the blade housing of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 1 ; and [0030] Figure 20 is a schematic top front perspective view of a second exemplary embodiment of a power operated rotary knife assembly of the present disclosure including a power operated rotary knife and a vacuum assembly, the power operated rotary knife including a handle assembly, a head assembly, including a notched annular rotary knife blade, a blade housing, a notched trim guide, and a vacuum connector, the vacuum assembly including the vacuum con ector and a vacuum hose coupled to the vacuum connector;

[0031] Figure 21 s a schematic longitudinal section view of the power operated rotary knife assembly of Figure 20;

[0032] Figure 22 is a schematic top front perspective view of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 20, the vacuum hose of the vacuum assembly being removed for clarity purposes;

[0033] Figure 23 is a schematic exploded perspective view of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 22;

[0034] Figure 24 is a schematic top plan view of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 22;

[0035] Figure 25 is a schematic bottom plan view of the power operated rotary knife of Figure 22;

[0036] Figure 26 is a schematic top plan view of a combination of the notched annular rotary knife blade, the blade housing, and the notched trim guide of the head assembiy of the power operated rotary knife assembly of Figure 20;

[0037] Figure 27 is a schematic bottom plan view of the combination of the notched annular rotary Knife blade, the blade housing, and the notched trim guide of the head assembiy of the power operated rotary knife assembly of Figure 20;

[0038] Figure 28 is a schematic section view of the combination of the. notched annular rotary knife blade, the blade housing, and She notched trim guide of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife assembly of Figure 20, as seen from a plane indicated by the line 28- 28 in Figure 26;

[0039) Figure 28A is a schematic enlarged section view of the combination of the notched annular rotary knife blade, the blade housing, and the notched trim guide of Figure 28 that is within a dashed circle labeled Fig, 28A in Figure 28;

]004O] Figure 29 is a schematic top plan view of the notched annular rotary knife blade of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife assembly of Figure 20; 2016/043484

[0041] Figure 30 is a schematic longitudinal section view of die notched annular rotary knife blade of Figure 29, as seen from a plane indicated by the line 30-30 i n Figure 29;

[0042] Figure 31 is a schematic enlarged section view of an e nd portion of the notched annular rotary knife blad of Figure 29 that is within a dashed circle labeled Fig, 31 in figure 30;

[0043] Figure 32 is a schematic top perspective view of the notched trim guide of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife assembly of Figure 20;

[0044] Figure 33 is a schematic top plan view of the notched trim guide of Figure 32; {0045) Figure 34 is a schematic bottom plan view of the notched trim guide of Figure 32; 10046] Figure 35 is a schematic longitudinal section view of the notched trim guide of

Figure 32, as seen from a plane indicated by the line 35-35 in Figure 33 ;

[0047] Figure 36 is a schematic top perspective v ew of the vacuum connector of the head assembly of the power operated rotary knife assembly of Figure 20;

[0048] Figure 37 is a schematic bottom plan view of the vacuum connector of Figure 36;

[0049J Figure 38 is a schematic longitudinal section view of the vacuum connector of

Figure 36, as seen from a plane indicated by the Sine 38-38 in Figure 37;

[0050] Figure 39 is a schematic longitudinal section view of the vacuum connector of

Figure 36, as seen from a plane indicated by the line 39-39 in Figure 37; and

[00511 Figure 40 is a schematic bottom perspective view of the vacuum connector of

Figure 36,

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0052] The present disclosure relates to a power operated rotary knife, in one exemplary embodiment, shown generally at 100, in Figures 1-3, including a head assembly 300 having a rotating, notched annular rotary knife blade 500 (Figures 10-13) and a coaciing stationary, notched trim guide 700 (Figures 14- 17). The rotary knife blade 500 is supported by a stationary blade housing 600 (Figures 18 and 3 ) for rotation about a central axis of rotaiion R of the biade 500. The biade housing 600 is positioned between the rotary knife blade 500 and the trim guide 700, Each of the rotary knife blade 500, the biade housing 600 and the trim guide 700 are annular, defining centrai open regions. When the rotary knife biade 500, the blade housing 600 and the trim guide are assembled and attached to a frame body 310 of the head assembly 300, as described below, the central open regions of a combination 450 of the b lade 500, blade housing 600 and trim guide 700 define a central cutting opening CO (best seen in the top plan view of Figures 2 and 7) of the power operated rotary knife 100. Cutting and trimming take place with the central cutting opening CO, The central cutting opening CO is actually defined by a combination 480 of the blade 500 and the trim guide 700, As can be seen in the top plan view of Figure 7, the bottom pian view of Figure 8 and the sectional view of Figure 9 which depicts the blade/blade housing/trim guide assembled combination 450, no port ion of the blade housing 600 extends radially inwardly far enough to define any portion of the central cutting opening CO, Thus, the central cutting opening CO is defined by intersecting central open regions of the assembled combination 480 of the rotary knife blade 500 and trim guide 700,

[ΘΘ53] The notched annular knife blade 500 and eoacting notched trim guide 700 are useful for a number of tasks, including trimming/pruning of plants and, specifically, trirnramg prumng foliage, branches, sterns, stalks, runners, etc, of plants, including nursery stock and production plants in an efficient and effective manner, by utilizi ng the advantage of a power driven, rapidly rotating rotary knife blade for cutting purposes. Among the plan! suitable tor trimming and pruning by the power operated knife 100 of the present disclosure include strawberry plants or bushes, which require periodic pruning and trimmi g of the plants, including trimming of runners (stems sent out by a plant to establish new plants, crowns, etc.) to maximize fruit production.

{ΘΘ54] Pruning of strawberry plants by hand using conventional hand tools such as pruning shears, snips, scissors, etc, or having employees use their hands for pruning is both labor intensive and time consuming. Additionally, constant hand manipulations required for operating pruning shears and the like are both tiring for the employee and result in repetitive stress to the employee's hand. While attempts at using power operated or power driven tools to replace hand pruning operations, such as, for example, the use of power driven string trimmers to prune strawberry plants, have met with limited success because strawberry plants are delicate and the plant and its root structure may be easily damaged by the action of a rapidly rotating plastic line of a string trimmer. Additionally, many commercial growers utilize plastic mats or sheets between strawberry plant rows to inhibit weed growth and protect strawberry plant roots. The whipping action of a rotating plastic line upon inadvertent contact with plastic mat or sheet can displace or damage the mat or sheet thereby undesirably exposing the plan! roots and/or damaging the plant roots.

[0055] The power operated rotary knife 100 of the present disclosure utilizes the advantage of a rapidly rotating rotary knife blade 500 and the stationary trim guide 700 to facilitate effective and efficient trimming or cutting of plant

foliage branches/stems stalks/runners and the like, etc, (hereinafter interchangeably and generally/collectively referred to as "branch" and/or "branches" arid/or "foliage" and/or "foliage material" and/or "material" and/or "materials" throughout this description). Depending on the gearing of a drive mechanism 400 and the rotational speed of a drive motor of the drive mechanism 400 of the power operated rotary knife 100, a diameter of the rotary knife blade 500 and the gearing characteristics of the driven gear 520 of the blade 500 and other factors, the rotation speed of the blade 500 may be or. the order of 500-1500 R?M, The rotary knife blade 500 is supported for rotation about a central axis of rotation R by a blade housing 600 and, when looking at the rotary knife blade 500 and the rotary knife 100 from above {the top plan view shown in Figure 2} rotates in a counterclockwise direction of rotation CCW {as seen in Figure 2).

[0056] The rotary knife blade 500 includes a blade section 550 that extends axiaiiy downwardly and radially inwardly from an annular body 510 of the blade 500. The blade section 550 extends between an upper end S52 and a lower end 554 and has a generally frusioconical shape. The lower end 554 of the blade section 550 defines a lower end 518 of the rotary knife blade 500. The blade section 550 includes a plurality of notches or notched regions 560 extending inwardly from a bottom or lower end 508 of the blade 500, that is, the lower end 554 of the blade section 550. Each of the plurality of notches 560 defines a recessed, arcuate cutting region or portion 5S0 of the rotary knife blade 500. Taken together, the recessed, arcuate cutting portions 580 defined by the plurality of notches 560 define a cutting edge 590 of the blade section 550 The plurality of notches 560 extend inwardly from a bottom end 554 of the blade section 550 of the rotary knife blade 500. The notches 560 include interior cutting regions which are recessed from the bottom end 554 of the blade section 550. For eac h of the plurality of notches S60. the arcuate cutting portion 580 of the notch 560 is disposed at a trailing end 570 of the notch 560 with respect to the direction of rotation CCW of the blade 500. In one exemplary embodiment of the rotary kn ife blade 500 of the present disclosure, the plurality of notches 560 are disposed in an evenly circuxnferentialiy spaced arrangement in the blade section 550 of the knife 500. as best seen in Figure 1 1, and the number of notches 560 is s ix.

[0057] The coacting trim guide 700 includes a planar base 710 and a guide section 720 extending axiaiiy downwardly and radially inwardly from the base 710. The trim guide 700 is positioned and configured such that the guide section 720 extends below and is adjacent to the blade section 550 of the blade 500. substantially conforming to the generally frusioconical shape of the blade section 550. The guide section 720 includes an upper end 722 and a lower end 724. The lower end 724 of the guide section 720 defines a lower end 704 of the trim guide 700. The guide section 720 includes a plurality of notches or notched regions 730 extending inwardly from a bottom or lower end 724 of the guide section 720, that is, the lower end 704 of the trim guide 700. Each of the plurality of notches 730 defines a recessed, shearing regions or portions 740 of the trim guide 700. For each of the plurality of notches 730, the shearing portion 740 of the notch 730 is disposed at a leading end of the notch 730 with respect to the direction of rotation CCW of the blade 550, The shearing portions 740 of the guide section notches 730 are in overlapping axial alignment with the arcuate cutting portions 580 of the blade section notches 560 as the rotary knife blade rotates about the central axis of rotation R. Stated another way, the stationary shearing portions 740 and the rotating cutting portions 580 create a shearing or scissors-like cutting action because they are in overlapping axial alignment as the rotary knife blade 100 rotates about its central axis of rotation R,

|ΘΘ58] An extending distal portion 725 of the guide section 720 of the trim guide 700 extends axiaily below and radially inwardly of the lower end 504 of the rotary knife blade 500 io function as a guard to protect the blade 500 from inadvertent contact with the plastic mat or sheeting used between rows of plants or around the base of a plant to inhibit weed growth and/or protect plant roots. Additionally, the extending distal portion 725 of the guide section 720 advantageously functions to direct a branch or branches into an interior region 745 of one of the plurality of notches 730 as the knife 100 is moved by the operator in a direction orthogonal to the axis of rotation R of the rotary knife blade 500 to cut or trim a branch or branches. That is, the operator moves the knife i 00 to position a branch or branches to be cut or trimmed within the central cutting opening CO defined by the rotary knife blade, blade housing, and trim guide combination 450. The operator then moves the knife ? 00 in a direction generally orthogonal to the blade axis of rotation R such that the branches are urged against the lower' end 724 of the trim guide 700 and slide along a lower end 724 of the guide section 720 and move into she interior region 745 of one of the plurality of notches 730 of the guide section 720. Typically, the movement of the knife 100 is in the direction of the operator, that is, the operator pull the knife in a rearward or proximal direction RW (Figure 3) toward himself or herself as the plurality of notches 730 are position toward a forward portion 726 of the guide section 720, Since the distal portion 725 extends beyond the lower end 504 of the blade, the uncut branch or branches can slide along a lower end 724 of the guide section 720 and tnove irrto the interior region 745 ef one of the plurality of notches 730 of the guide section 720 as the operator pull the knife 100 toward himself or herself.

[0059} The Trim guide 700 also includes a guard section 750 comprising a peripheral rib 7 3 which extends axiaily above and radially outwardly from the base 710. As can best be seen in Figure 15, the rib 751 extends around most, but not all of the total annulus defined by the trim guide 700. Additionally, the guard section 550 includes a verlical extension 754 extending axially upwardly from an upper end 7Sla of the rib 753 and a lip 770 extending axially upwardly a«d radially inwardly from an upper end 754a of the vertical extension 754. The vertical extension 754 and the lip 770 subtend an angle less than an angle subtended by the rib 751 , Both the rib 751, the vertical extension 754 and the lip 770 of the guard section 750 function as guards to protect the blade 500 from inadvertent contact with plastic mats, portions of plants that are not to be trimmed or cut, and the like.

[0060] in one exemplary embodiment of the trim guide 700 of the present disclosure, the plurality of notches 730 are disposed in a front or distal portion 726 of the guide section 720 of the trim guide 700, as can best 'he seen in Figure 16, and the number of notches 730 is six, evenly spaced apart subtending just over 180 degrees of the total annulus defined b the trim guide 700,

[0061] The notches 730 of the trim guide 700 function to direct the plant branches to be cut into recessed shearing portions 740 defined by each of the plurality of notches 730 of the trim guide 700 wherein the recessed arcuate cutting portions 580 of the pl urality of notches 560 of the rotary knife blade 500 cut the branches by shearing action as the blade 500 rotates with respect to the stationary trim guide700. To cut or trim a branch, the power operated rotary knife ! 00 is positioned with respect to a plant branch to be cut or trimmed such thai the branch extends through the cutting opening CO defined by the power operated rotary knife 300. the operator then moves the knife 100 in a direction such that the branch is moved within the cutting opening CO and urged against the front or distal portion 725 of the guide section 720 of the trim guide 700. Depending on the position of the branch within the cutting opening CO, the movement of the rotary knife 100 by the operator will move the branch into one of the plurality of notches 730 of the trim guide guide section 720. A cutting portion 580 of the rotary kni fe blade 500 will impact the branch within the interior region 745 of the notch 730, cutting the branch by a shearing action between the shearing portion 740 of the trim guide notch 730 at the leading end 732 of the notch 730 and the cutting portion 580 of the blade section notch 560 at the trailing end wmte the shearing a ti n or trie power operaieo rotary κη η ¾

described above with respect to trimming, pruning, cutting of plants and, sr.

plants, one of skill in the art will recognize that the power operated rotary knife 1 0 of the present disclosure cars be advamageousiy used for any trimming pruiiirig/cutting task where a shearing-type cutting action between a rapidly rotating rotary knife blade 500 having, recessed sharpened, cutting portions 580, against a stationary trim guide 700, having recessing shearing portions 740, that functions to guide elements to be cat or trimmed into position for cutting by the recessed, sharpened cutting portions 580 of the rotary knife blade 500, In one exemplary embodiment of the power operated rotary knif 100 of the present disclosure, an outer diameter of the rotary knife blade 500 is appfoximaiely 5,09 in, and the blade configuration is a so-cal led fiat blade configuration meaning the blade has a shallow blade cutting profile, as opposed to, for example, a hook blade configuration or a straight blade configuration. As would be understood by one of skill in the art the configuration and size of the rotary knife blade 500 may vary depending on the elements/branches to be cut trimmed or pruned. The present disclosure contemplates the use of alternate blade sizes and configurations and corresponding different diameters/sizes and configurations for the trim guide 700 in the power operated rotary knife ] 00. fO063J HANDLE ASSEMBLY 200

[0064] The power operated rotary knife 100 of the present disclosure includes the head ' assembly 300 having an elongated handle assembly reieasably affixed thereto, As can best be seen in Figures 1 -3, the handle assembly 200 extends along a longitudinal axis LA. The handle assembly 200 includes & hand piece 210 defining an exterior gripping surface 212 adapted to be gripped by an operator of the power operated knife 100 when wielding and manipulating the knife 100, The hand piece 210 includes the central throughbore defin ed by an inner surface 224 of ihe hand piece 210, The handle assembly throughbore is coaxial w ith ihe longitudinal axis LA and is aligned with a throughbore of a throughbore 312 of a frame or frame housing/body 3 5 of the head assembly.

[0065] The handle assembly 200 further includes a drive shaft latching assembly 280. The shaft drive latching assembly 280 reieasably secures a flexible shaft drive assembly (not shown) of the drive mechanism 400 to the handle assembly 200 such that motive power may be applied to drive a drive or gear train 402 disposed in the throughbore 3 1 2 of the frame 10 and thereby rotate the rotary knife blade 300, In one exemplary embodiment, the gear train 402 comprises a pinion gear 404 which is rotated by the flexible shaft drive assembly and, i n turn, rotates the rotary knife blade 500. The shaft drive iaiching assembly 280 includes a latching knob 282 secured to a proximal end 14 of the hand piece 230 and a latching member 284 for reieasably securing a coupling of the shaft drive assembly to the handl e assembly 200.

[0066] The latching knob 282 of the drive shaft latching assembly 280 threads onto a threaded end section (not shown) of the frame tube (not shown) extend rig from the frame body 310, When the latching knob 282 is threaded onto the threaded proximal end section of the frame tube, the hand piece 210 is thereby sandwiched and secured to -the rearward annular boss 350 of the frame body 10.

HEAD ASSEMBLY 300

}§06§] The power operated rotary knife 100 includes a handle assembi 200 and the head assembly 300 releasabiy affixed to the handle assembly 20,0. As can best be seen in Figures 4-6, the head assembly 300 includes the frame housing or frame 3 J 0 > a clamping assembly 330, the rotary knife blade 500, the blade housing 800 and the trim guide 700. The rotary knife blade 500 is supported for rotation about the axis of rotation R by the blade housing 600, The blade housin 600 defines a rotational plane HP of the rotary knife biade 00. The blade housing 600. in turn, is releasabiy affixed to 'die frame body 310 by a cover or damp 332 of the damp assembly 330. As is best seen in Figures 6-8, the frame body 310 also supports the drive mechanism 400 of the power operated rotary knife 100. lit one exemplary embodiment, the frame body 10 includes the longitudinally extending, central througbbore 312 which supports the gear train 402 of the drive mechanism 400. Specifically, the gear train 402 includes a pinion gear 4604 and an input shaft of the pinion gear 404 is supported for rotation within a cylindrical bushing 410 positioned within a front portion 314 of the tbroughbore 3 12. The pinion gear 404 is precisely positioned and oriented by the frame body 330 such that a gear head 406 of the pinion gear meshes with a driven gear 520, namely, set of gear teeth 522 formed at the upper end 516 of the annular body 510 of the of the rotary knife blade 500 to rotate the knife blade 580 within th blade housi g 600.

{0070} The frame body 31 0 includes a forward or distal blade housing support region 320 and a rearward annular boss 350. The forward blade support region 320 includes a pair of outwardly extending arcuate arms 322 which define a blade housing mounting region 324 for recelvirsg an arcuate mounting section 650 of the blade housing 600 and a clamping receiving region 326 for receiving the proximal wail of the ciamp 332 of the clamping assembly 330. The clamp 332 is secured to the frame body 310 by a pair of threaded fasteners 334 that extend through respective openings in the arcuate arms 322 of the frame body 310. The arcuate mounting section 392 of the blade housing 390 is sandwiched between the forward blade housing support region 320 and the clamp 332 to releasabiy secure the biade housing 600 to the frame body 3 10.

[0071] In one exemplary embodiment, the rearward annular boss 350 of the frame body 310 includes an inner surface defining a rear- portion of the central throughbore 312. The rear portion of the central throughbore 3 S 2 includes a threaded section. A frame tube (not shown) threads into and is affixed to the threaded section of the rearward annular boss 350. The frame tube (not shown) extends rearwardiy though a central throughbor of a hand piece 210 of the handle assembly 200 and includes a threaded proximal end section. An outer surface 352 of the rearward annular boss 350 includes a first region 354, closest to the forward blade support region 320, and a middle region 356. The first region 354 includes a pair of exterior grooves on the outer surface 352 that receives a pair of sealing members 382 of the grease cup assembly 380. 7¾e middle region 356 includes a plurality of raised splines 358 and is sized to receive an annular mounting ring 392 of the pivoting thumb support 390. If desired and depending on. operator preference, the pivoting thumb support 390 may be removed from the power operated rotary knife 100 and the knife 1 0 may be used without the thumb support 390. in such an alternate exemplary embodiment, the annular mounting ring 392 is replaced with an annular spacer ring (not shown) which is sized to fit on the plurality of raised splines 358 of !he rearward annular boss 350 of the frame 310. Specific details of the structure and function of the pivoting thumb support 390, the grease cup assembly 380 an i attachment structure of the handle assembly 200 to the head assembly 300 are found in U.S. Published Application No,

US2034/0259690 to Mascari et ah, published September I S, 2014 and U.S. Published

Application No. US2014/0250697 to Steele et al, published September 1 1 , 2014, issued as U.S. Pat, No. 9,32 i , i 8.3 on April 26, 2016. Both U.S. Published Application No. US2014/0259690 and U.S. Published Application No. US2014/Q250697 are assigned to the assignee of the present invention and both of the aforesaid published applications arc- incorporated herein in their respective entireties by reference.

[00721 DRIVE MECHANISM 400

[0073] The drive mechanism 400 of She power operated rotary knife 100 includes the dri ve train 402 supported within the central throughbore 312 of the frame body 330. in one exemplary embodiment, the drive train 402 includes the pinion gear 404. The input shaft 408 of the pinion gear 404 is supported for rotation by the cylindrical bushing 410 positioned within the front portion of the throughbore 412. A drive coupling of a flexible shaft drive transmission (not shown), driven by a remote motor dri ve (not shown), extends through a throughbore of the hand piece 210 of the handle assembly 200 arid engages a female coupling defined by the pinion gear input shaft 408 to rotate the pinion gear 404. The gear head 406 of the pinion gear 404 operatively engages the set of gear teeth of the rotary knife biade 500 to rotate the knife blade 500 within the blade housing 600. [0074] As mentioned above, in one exemplary embodiment,, the drive mechanism 400 of the power operated rotary knife 100 may comprise a remote motor dri ve and a flexible shaft drive transmission which transfers rotational power from the motor drive to rotate a drive train 1550 of the power operated rotary knife 1000. The flexible shaft: drive transmission includes a driver assembly which is received in a central, longitudinally extending throughbore of the handle assembly 200 to rotatab'y drive the drive train 402 of the drive mechanism 400, Such a drive mechanism, including a remote motor drive and flexible shaft drive transmission and driver assembly, are disclosed in U.S. Pat, No, 8,968, 107 ' to Rapp et a!., issued March 3, 2015 and U.S. Published Application No. IJ 82013/0174424 to Whlted et aL published July 1 1 , 201 3, issued as U.S. Pat. No. 9,265,263 or, February 23, 2016, both of which are ass igned to the assignee of the present invention. Both U .S. Pat, No, 8,968,107 and U.S. Published Application No.

US2013/0174424 are incorporated herein in their respective entireties by reference. In an alternate exemplary embodiment of the power operated rotary knife of the present disclosure, the drive mechanism 400 may include a pneumatic motor (not shown) disposed within the throughbore of the handle assembly 200. An output shaft and coupling of the pneumatic motor are operatively coupled to the female coupling defined by the pinion gear input shaft 408 to rotate the pinion gear 404. Such a pneumatic drive mechanism is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,207, 1 14 to osu et aL, issued April 24, 2007 and U.S. Pal. No. 8,756,819 to Whited et aL, issued June 24, 203 , both of which arc assigned to She assignee of the present invention. Both U.S. Pat. No. 7,207, ! i 4 and U.S. Pat. No. 8,756,8 i 9 are incorporated herein in their respective entireties by reference.

[0075] BLADE HOUSING 600

[ΘΘ76] The rotary knife blade 500 (Figures 10-13) is supported for rotation about a centra] axis of rotation R by the annular blade housing 600 (figures i 8- 3 9). The blade housing includes a split, annulariy curved blade support section 610 that surrounds and supports the rotary knife blade 500 about the entire 360 degree circumference of the blade .500 and a mounting section 650 extending axial ly from the blade supuort section 610 and provides a mounting structure for rek-asably mounting the blade 500 and blade housing 600 to the blade housing mounting region 324 of the frame body 310. The blade housing includes an inner wall 602 and an outer wall 604 and an upper end 606 and a lower end 608. Adjacent the lower end 608, the inner wail 602 defines a bearing surface 620, which in one exemplary embodiment is a radially i swardiy protruding bearing bead 622, extending from an inner wall 602 of the blade housing 600. The blade housing bearing bead 622 extends into a generally V-shaped opening or bearing race 540 formed in and extending radially into an ouier wall of the 514 of an annular body 530 of the rotary knife blade 500 to support the blade for rotation . The blade bearing race 540 comprises two axiaily spaced apart, generally frustcconical, bearing faces 542 which bear against the blade housing bead 622 to support the blade both axiaily and radially. The bearing support structure of the bearing bead 622 of the blade bousing 600 and the bearing race 540 of the rotary knife blade 500 define ibe rotational plane RP of the rotary knife blade 500, which is substantially orthogonal lo the blade central axis of rotation R.

[0Θ77] The mounting section 650 of the blade housing 600 includes an angled split 652 and a pinion clearance region 654, The pinion clearance region 654 of the blade housing mounting section 650 provides for clearance for the gear head 406 of the pinion gear 04 of the drive mechanism drive train 402. The angled split 652 of the mounting section 650 is drcumfercnfiaily offset from the pinion clearance region 654 arid provides for expansion of the blade housing diameter for purposes of changing the rotary knife blade 500 when the blade has reached the end of its useful life. Specific details regarding an annular blade housing with an angle split and offsel pinion clearance region are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 8,661 ,692 to Whited et a!., issued March 4, 2034. U.S. Pat. No. 8,661 ,692 is assigned to the assignee of the present invention and is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

[0078J The rotary knife blade 500, the blade housing 600, and the trim guide 700. are all annular and, when assembled, define an overlapping sandwiched combination 450, as shown in Figures 7-9, wherein the blade housing blade support section 610 is rad ially sandwiched between, on the radial inside, the annular body 510 of the rotary knife blade 500 and, on She radial outside, by the rib 751 of the guard section 750 of the trim guide 700.

[0079] ROTARY KNIFE BLADE 500

[0080] The rotary knife blade 500 of the power operated rotary knife i 00 includes an inner wall 502 and a radially spaced apart outer wall 504 and an upper end 506 and an axiaily spaced apart lower or bottom end 508. The inner wall 502 defines a centra; opening of the blade 500. The blade 500 includes the annular body 510 which defines an inner wall 512 (definingjasi i ia; OI Ij.iC OiaOC ίϊ OUier rv ;; .) ; - an Oi ιΠ U U. Wi t : jt.H of the blade 500), an upper end 55 (defining the upper end 506 of the blade 500} and a lowe end 518. The rotary knife blade 500 further includes the blade section 550 extending axia!!y downwardly and radially inwardly (toward the blade axis of rotation R from the lower end 518 of the annular body 510. The blade section 550 includes upper end 552 adjacent the annular U 2016/043484

body lower end 518 and a lower end 554 (defining the lower end 508 of the b ade 500) and a generally frustoeonical wall 556 extending therebetween.

[0081J The upper end 516 of the annular body 510, as mentioned above, defines the driven gear 520 of the biade SOD. The driven gear 520 comprises a set of gear teeth formed in a circumference adjacent the outer wall 514 of the annular body. Adjacent the lower end 518 of the annular body, the blade bearing race 540 defining frusioconical bearin surfaces 542 is formed in the outer wall 514 of the annular body, as described above.

[0082] The lower end 554 of the blade section 550 includes a plurality interrupted arc portions 572 thai define a lower edge 509 of the blade 500. The interrupted arc portions 572 are centered about ihe blade central axis of rotation R and, if connected and continued, would form a circle defining an inner diameter of the blade 500 with a center on the axis of rotation R, Typically, the interrupted arc portions 572 would define a cutting edge of the blade, but, in the rotary knife 500 of the present disclosure, the cutting edge 590 of the blade are defined by the recessed, arcuate cutting portions 580 within the plurality of notches 560. Interrupting the arc portions 572 are ihe plurality of notches 560 formed at the lower end 55- of the frustoeonical wall 556 of the blade section 550 and extending into the frusioconical wail 556, As can best be seen in figure 1 1, each of the notches of the plurality of notches 560, when viewed in top plan view, defines a generally rectangular cavity 561 defined by a peripheral wall 562 surrounding a central open portion 564 and defining the cavity 561. The peripheral wall 562, when viewed with respect to the counterclockwise direction of rotation CCW (Figure 7) of the rotary knife blade 500, includes an angled leading portion or end 566, a generally li near central portion 568, and a hook- shaped or ϋ-shaped trailing portion or end 570.

(0O83J The trailing end 570 of the peripheral wall 562 includes an arcuate sharpened region 571 extending approximately from a transition segment 569 of the peripheral wall 562 bridging the linear central portion 568 and the trailing end 570 to a termination point 584 of the trailing end 570 located at the bottom edge 509 of the blade 500, as defined by the start of the next interrupted arc portion 572. The arcuate sharpened regions 571 may extend to the bottom edge 509 of the blade 500 or be in close proximity to the bottom edge. Both are contemplated by the present disclosure. The arcuate sharpened regions 571 are concave (like the inside ofa bowl) in that they are curving in or hollowed inwardly due to the book-shape of the trailing end 570 of the peripheral wall 562. The arcuate sharpened regions 571 of the plurality of notches 560 define the respective recessed arcuate cutting regions or portions 580 of the biade 500. The arcuate cutting portions 580 are recessed in that at least a portion of the arcuate sharpened region 571 is within an interior region 582 (that is, the central open portion: 564) defined by each of the pluraliiy of notches 560. it should be appreciated of course that the arcuate cutting portions 580 (and the associated sharpened regions 571), instead of being arcuate (by virtue of the hook- shaped trailing end 570 of the peripheral wail 562), could be linear or convex and the present disclose contemplates such an alternate embodiment In one exemplary embodiment of the rotary knife biade 500, an inner diameter of the blade 500, as defined by the interrupted arc portions 572 constituting the lower edge 509 of the blade 500, is approximately 4.0 in., while the outside diameter of the blade, defined by the radial outermost extent of the outer wall 5 i 4 of the annular body 510 of the blade is approximately 5.092 in. In one exemplary embodiment, a thickness of the interrupted arc portions 572 is approximately 0.038 in. Additionally, in one exemplary embodiment, the number notches in the plurality of notches 560 is six, each of which is spaced eqoidistantly about an inner perimeter or inner diameter of the blade 500, each of the notches subtending m angle a (depicted schematically in Figure 1 1 ) with respect to the central axis of rotation R. of approximately 35*.

00841 TRIM GUIDE 700

f0085j The trim guide 700, which is stationary with respect xo the rotation of the blade 500, includes an upper end 702 and a sower end 704 and defines the piarmr base 710, the guide section 720 extending axially below and radially inwardly from the base 710, and ihe guard section 750, including the upwardly extending rib 753 , the vertical extension 754 and the radialfy inwardly extending Hp 770, as previously described. The base 710 i ncludes an attachment tab 718 extending from a rearward portion 712 of the base 710. The tab 71 8 includes an aperture. 719. The trim guide 700 is releasabiy affixed to a bottom surface 32 1 of the blade housing support region 320 of the frame body 310 by a threaded fastener 800 that extends through the tab aperture 719 and threads into a threaded opening 321a of the bottom surface 321 of the blade housing support region 320 of the frame body 310.

0086 ' | The guide section 720 of the trim guide 700 includes an upper end 722 and a lower end 724 and defines a guide section frustoconical wall 72 ) . The frustoconicaf wall 721 extends along the rrustoconical wall 556 of the blade section 550. As described above, the extending distal portion 725 of guide section 720 extends axially below and radially inwardly beyond the lower edge 509 of the rotary knife biade 500 and has two functions: 1 ) to direct a branch or branches into an interior region 745 defined by one of the plurality of notches 730 as the knife 100 is moved by tine operator to cut or trim a branch or branches within the central cutting opening CO of the knife 100; and 2) to guard the blade 500 from inadvertent contact with the ground or plastic mats or sheets positioned on the ground between rows of plants,

[0087] in the forward portion 726 of the guide section 720 are the plurality of notches 730 formed the lower end 724 and extending into the frustoconieai wall 721 . The lower end 724 of the guide section 720 also includes interrupted arc portions 738 that define a lower edge 709 of the trim guide 700, The interrupted arc portions 738 are centered about the blade central axis of rotation R and, if connected and continued, would form a circle defining an inner diameter of the trim guide 700 with a center on the axis of rotation R. interrupting the arc portions 738 in the forward portion 726 of the guide section 720 are the plurality of notches 730 formed at the lower end 724 of the frustoconieai wall 721 of the guide section 720 and extending into the frustoconieai wall 721. As can best be seen in Figure 15, each of the notches of the plurality of notches 730, when viewed in top plan view, defines a generally slanted, concave U-shaped cavity 7 1 defined by a peripheral wail 742 surrounding a central open portion 743 (the interior region 745) and defining the cavity 741. The peripheral wall 742, when viewed with respect to the counterclockwise direction of rotation CCW of the rotary knife blade 500, includes an angled leading portion or end 732, a generally linear central portion 733, and an angled trailing portion or end 734,

|0O88j For each of the plurality of notches 730, the leading end 734 of the peripheral wall 742 defines a shearing region or portion 740 extending approximately from a termination point 747 of the notch 730 at the lower end 724 of the guide section 720 where the next adjacent interrupted arc portion 738 commences and extending to a radially innermost point 746 (Figure. 16) of the peripheral wall 742. Or, stated another way, the shearing region or portion 740 extends from the termination point 747 of the notch 730 to a radially innermost point 749 (Figure 16) of the notch 730, which corresponds to the radially innermost point 746 of the peripheral wall 742. When viewed in top plan view, the shearing portions 740 defined by the leading ends 734 of the respective plurality of notches 730 define a linear segment 740a (Figure 15} over most of their extent moving radially inwardly from the lower end 724 of the guide section 720 and then transition into a shorter arcuate segment 740b as the innermost point 746 of the peripheral wall 742 is approached. The shearing portions 740 of the plurality of notches 730 of the trim guide 700 are recessed in that at least a portion of the shearing portion 740 is within an interior region 745 (that is, the central open portion 743) defined by each of the plurality of notches 730.

[0089] As explained above, the cutting action of the knife 100 occurs through the combination 480 of the rotating rotary knife blade 500 and the stationary' rim guide 700. As she biade 500 rotates about its central axis of rotation R, the shearing portions 740 of the guide section notches 730 come into overlapping axia! alignment with the arcuate cutting portions 580 of the blade section notches 560. Additionally, the centra! open portion 564 or interior region 5S2 of each of the plurality of notches 560 of the biade section 550 of the rotary knife blade 500 come into overlapping axial alignment with the central open portion 743 or interior region 745 of each of the plurality of notches 730 as the blade 500 rotates about the axis of rotation . This transitory overlapping alignment of the central open portions 564, 743 or interior regions 582, 745 define transitory cutting pockets 799 (two of which can fee seen in Figure 7). The uncut branch or branches directed into a transitory pocket 799 by the guide section 720 of the trim guide 700, that is, guided into a trim guide notch 730, will be rapidly and efficiently cut by the shearing action of the rotating coifing portions 580 of the blade 500 passing over the stationary shearing portions 740 of the trim guide 700 as the rotary knife blade 500 continues its high speed rotation in the counterclockwise direction CCW, The cutting pockets 799 are transitory in that as the blade 500 continues to rotate about its axis of rotation R, the blade 500 rotates with respect to the stationary trim guide 700. Thus, as would be understood, new cutting pockets 799 are formed by overlapping interior regions 582, 745 and then disappear as cutting of the branch or branches with the cutting pockets 799 occurs by shearing action by virtue of the rotating cutting portions 580 of the blade 500 passing over the stationary shearing portions 740 of the trim guide. 700. Thus, as the blade 500 rotates about the central axis of rotation R, new cutting pockets 799 are constantly formed and old cutting pockets 799 disappear as cutting occurs and branches in the cutting pockets are cut by shearing action.

[0090] In one exemplary embodiment of the trim guide 700, an inner diameter of the trim guide 700, as defined by the interrupted arc portions 738 constituting the lower edge 709 of the trim guide 700, is approximately 3.809 in,, while a diameter defined by a radially innermost point of each of the plurality of notches 730 of the guide section 720 is approximately 4.631 in. Additionally, so one exemplary embodiment, the number notches in the plurality of notches 730 is six, each of the notches subtending an angle β (depicted schematically in Figure 15) with respect to the central axis of rotation R of approximately 20°,

j 009!] Annular, as sed herein, means generally ring-like or generally ring-shaped in configuration and includes configuration wherein the ring include or does not include a spilt extending through a diameter of the ring or annul us. Axiaily above or axial iy spaced above, as used herein, means positioned above as viewed with, respect, to an axis, for example, the central axis of rotation R of the rotary knife blade 500, even if the two elements are not in axial alignment with respect to the axis. Similarly, the terms axially beiovv or axially spaced below, as used herein, means positioned below as viewed with respect to an axis, for example, the central axis of rotation R of the rotary knife blade 500, even if the two elements are not in axial alignment with respect to the axis, Axially extending, as used here, means one element extends from and is positioned above or below a second element with respect to an axis, even if the two elements are not in axial alignment with respect to the axis. Similarly, the terms radially offset from, radially outward of, radially inward of, as used herein, means one element is positioned offset from a second element, as viewed along a radius line extending radially from an axis, tor example, the central axis of rotation R of the rotary knife Wade 500. even if she two elements are not in radial alignment along the radius iine because one element is axially above or axially below the other element

[0092] SECOND EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENT - PO WER OPER ATED RO TAR Y KNIFE ASSEMBLY 1000

0093] A second exemplary embodiment of a power operated rotary knife assembly of the present disclosure is schematically shown, generally at 1000, in Fig ures 20-2 i . The power operated rotary knife assembly 1000 includes a power operated rotary knife 1 100, generally similar in structure and function to the power operated rotary knife 1 00 of the first exemplary embodiment, and a vacuum assembly 1 00. The power operated rotary knife 100 is best seen in the schematic depictions of Figures 22-25, wherein a vacuum hose 3 990 of the vacuum assembly 1900 has been removed for clarity. Advantageously, the vacuum assembly 1 00 functions to remove, by vacuum suction, out or trimmed materials (cut elements/branches) horn the cutting opening CO of the power operated rotary knife 1 100. The v cuum assembly 1 00 (depicted schematically in Figures 20 and 2.1 ) expeditiously and efficiently removes trimmed branch materials from the cutting opening or cutting region CO {best seen in Figures 26 and 27} and, thus, away from the plant being trimmed, keeping the plant and the plant bed areas clean and free from trimmed branch materials is advantageous from a horticultural point of view.

Leaving trimmed materials on the remaining branches of the plant or leaving trimmed materials to decay on the ground in the plant bed area is unsightly and potentially could lead to plant disease and/or insect infestation problems.

0094] For brevity, the structural details /functions/advantages o f those components and assemblies of the power operated rotary knife 1100 which are. similar to the corresponding components and assemblies of the power operated rotary knife 100 will net be repeated in detail, ail of the structural detaiis/f unctions/advantages discussed above with respect to the power operated rotary knife 100 are hereby incorporated by reference with respect to the second exemplary embodimeni. Explanations regarding the description of the power operated rotary knife 100, set forth above, are also hereby incorporated by reference with respect to the second exemplary embodimeni. Common reference numbers and letters used in the two embodiments

[0095] As best seen in Figures 22-25, the power operated rotary knife 1 100 includes an elongated handle assembly 1200 extending and centered about a handle assembly longitudinal axis LA, similar to the handle assembly 200 of the power operated rotary knife 100 of the first exemplary embodiment, and a head assembly 1300, similar to the bead assembly 300 of the power operated rotary knife 100. The head assembly 1300 includes a notched annular rotary knife blade 1500 supported for rotation about a central axis of rotation R by the split blade housing 1600, simikr in operation and structure to the rotary knife blade 500 and blade housing 600 of the power operated rotary knife 100. Additionally, as with rotary knife blade 500 and the trim guide 700 of the power operated rotary knife 100, cutting and trimming of branches for the power operated rotary knife 1 300 is accomplished by the shearing action of the rotating rotary knife blade 1500 and a notched stationary trim guide 1700. The configuration of the rotary knife blade 1500 and the trim guide 1700 are generally the same as the counterpart rotary knife blade 500 and trim guide 700 of the power ope ated rotary knifelOO. The structure differences of the rotary knife blade 1500 and the trim guide 1700 from their counterparts of the first exemplary embodiment are explained below,

[0096] The head assembly 1300 (Figure 23) further includes a frame body 13 10, similar to the frame body 310 of the power operated rotary knife 100, including a forward blade housing support region 1320 and a rearwardly extending annular boss 1350 and a clamping assembly 13.30, similar to the clamping assembly 330 of the power operated rotary knife 100. As shown in Figures 20 and 21 , the directions forward FW and rearward RW are generally along and with respect to the handle assembly longitudinal axis LA and the directions up UP and down DW are generally along and with respect to the rotary knife blade axis of rotation R. The clampi ng assembly 1230 includes an arcuate clamp 1332 secured to the frame body 1310 by a pair of threaded fasteners 1334 that extend through respective horizontally oriented openings 1 22 of a pair of outwardly extending arcuate arms 1322 of the frame body 13 10 and thread into respective threaded openings in a proximal wall 1333 of the clamp 1332, The clamping assembly 1330 functions to secure a split blade housing 1600 to the blade housing support region 1320. as described with respect to the head assembly 300 of the power operated rotary knife 100. The forward blade housing support region 1320 of the frame body 1310 includes the pair of outwardly extending arcuate arms 1322, The arcuate arms 1322 define a blade housing mounting region 1324 for receivlsg an arcuate mourning section 1650 of tine blade housing 1600 and a clamping receiving region 3326 for receiving the proximal wall S 333 of the damp 1332 of the clamping assembly 1330, The head assembly 1300 of the power operated rotary knife 1 100 also includes a drive mechanism 1400, similar to the drive mechanism 400 of the power operated rotary knife 100.

[0097] In addition to the foregoing, the head assembly 1300 of the power operated rotary knife 1 100 further includes a vacuum connector 3910 (Figures 36-40), which is releasabSy affixed to the blade housing 1600. The vacuum connector 1 10 is both a part or component of the head assembly 1 00 of the power operated rotary knife 1100 and also is a part or component of the vacuum assembly of the power operated rotary knife assembly 1O00. The vacuum assembly additionally includes a flexible vacuum hose 1990 and a vacuum damp 1 95 for affixing a proximal end portion 1 91 of the vacuum hose 1 90 to an upper or exit end 3 914 of the vacuum connector 1910. The vacuum connector 1910 defines an inverted funnel-shaped interior region 1912 that provides a fluid communication path for the flow of trimmed foliage material from the cutting opening CO of the power operated rotary knife i 100 to an interior region 1992 of a vacuum hose 1990 to provide for efficient remove of trimmed materials by a vacuum drawn in the interior regions 1992, 1 12 of the vacuum hose 1990 and the vacuum adapter ! 910 from the cutting opening CO, That is, in the power operated rotary knife 100. after shearing, cut materials drop generally downwardly from the shearing region toward the ground by action of gravity. By contrast, with the power operated rotary kni fe assembly 1000, the vacuum assembly 1 00 functions to apply a vacuum suction pressure in the region of the cutting opening CO to draw cut materials into an interior region 1912 defined by the inverted funnel- shaped vacuum connector 1910 and ultimately into the interior region 1 992 of a vacuum hose 1990. Vacuum pressure drawn in the vacuum hose interior region 1992 is communicated through the interior region 1912 of the vacuum connector 1910 and into an interior region of the rotary knife blade 1500. The vacuum suction pressure is created by a suitable vacuum motor system (not shown) and the cut materials accumulate in a container (not shown) at a proximal end of the vacuum hose 1 92.

| ' 098| As mentioned above, the head assembly 1300 includes the notched annular rotary knife blade 1500 (Figures 29-32), the coacting stationary, notched tri m guide 1700 (Figures 32- 35), the blade housing 1600 (Figures 23, 28 and 28A) and the vacuum connector 1910 (Figures 36-40). The rotaiy knife blade 3500 is supported by the stationary biade housing 1600 for rotation about a centra! axis of rotation R of the blade 1500. The blade housing 1600 is positioned between the rotary knife biade 1500 and the trim guide ] 700. The trim guide i 700 is secured to the frame body 1310 fay a threaded fastener 1800 which passes through an aperture 1719 in a attachment tab 1718 oft.be trim guide 1700 and threads into a threaded opening 1321 a of a bottom surface 1321 of the blade housing support region 1320 of the frame body 1310 to secure the trim guide 1700 to the frame body 1310 (similar in structure arid function to the fastener 800 and (he attachment iab 718 of the trim guide 700 of the power operated rotary knife 100).

J9099] As can be seen in Figure 21, the vacuum connector 1 1 0 is secured to a clamp 1332 of the clamping assembly 1330 by a threaded fastener 1 80 (Figure 21) which extends through a vertically oriented opening 1963 defined in a radially extend i ng boss 1962 of a clamp interface portion I 960 of a lower mounting section 1950 of the vacuum connector 1 10. The threaded fastener 3980 threads into a threaded opening 1342 formed in an upper surface J 340 of the clamp member ! 332 to secure the vacuum connector 1910 to the clamp member 1332 and thereby couple the vacuum connector 1 10 to the frame body 13 10, In one exemplary embodiment, the threaded connector 1980 is a thumbscrew to advantageously allow for easy removal of the vacuum connector 3910 from the remainder of the bead assembly 1300, specifically the clamp member 1332 and the blade housing 1600 for se rvicing of the vacuum connector 1910. The vacuum connector 1 10 is also secured to the trim guide 1 700 by a C- shaped latch 1972 (best seen in Figures 39 and 40) extending from an arcuate rim portion 1971 of a trim guide interface, portion 3 70 of the lower mounting section 1950 of the vacuum connector 1910. The Osbaped latch 1972 of the trim guide interface portion 1970 latches or hooks on io an asiaily and radially extending rib 1951 , a vertical extens ion 1754 and a radially inwardly extending lip 3 770 of a guard section 1750 (best seen in Figures 32 and 35) of the trim " ide 1 ^00. The C-shaiped latch 1 72 to the trim gui e 1700 is ci c jn " erentia!lv opposite of the connection of the thumbscrew 1980 of the vacuum connector boss 1962 to the c!amp member upper surface 1 40. The combined coupling of the C-shaped latch 3972 and the thumbscrew 1980 rekasably secure the vacuum connector 1 10 io remainder of the head assembly 1300. 100100] As schematically depicted in Figures 26 and 27, each of the rotary knife blade 1500, the blade housing 1600 and the trim guide 1700 are annular, defining central open regions COL C02, C03, respectively. When the rotary knife blade 1500. the b lade housing 1600 and the trim guide 1700 are assembled and attached to the frame body 1 0 of the head assembly 1300, the central open regions of a combination 1 50 of the blade I 500, the blade housing 1600 and trim guide 1700 define the centra! cutting opening CO of the power operated rotary knife 1100. Cutting and trimming take place along a periphery of the central cutting opening CO. The central cutting opening CO is actually defined b a combination Ϊ 480 of the blade 1500. and the trim guide 1700. As can be seen in Figures 21 and 26-28 A, no portion of the blade bowsing 1600 extends radially inwardly far enough to define any portion of the central cutting opening CO of the power operated rotary knife 3 .1 0. Thus, the central cutting opening CO is defined by intersecting central open regions CO 2, C03 of the assembled combination 1480 of the rotary knife blade 1500 and trim guide 1700.

001011 BLADE HOUSING 1600

[00102] As best seen in Figures 21, 23, 28 and 28 A, the rotary knife blade 1500 of the power operated rotary knife 1 100 is supported for rotation sbo t she central axis of rotation R by the annular blade housing 1600. The blade housing includes a split, annularly curved blade support section 1610 that surrounds and supports the rotary knife blade 3500 about the entire 360 degree circumference of th blade 1500 and a mounting section 1650 extending sxiaii from the blade support section 1610 and provides a mounting structure for re!easab!y mourning the blade 1500 and blade housing i o00 to the blade housing mounting region 1 324 of the forward blade housing support region 1320 of the frame body 1310. Tine blade housing 1600 includes an inner wall. 1602 and an outer wall 1604 and an upper end 3606 and a lower end 160S, Adjacent the lower end 1608, the inner wall 1602 defines a bearing surface 1620, svh ich in one exemplary embodiment is a radially inwardly protruding bearing bead 1622, extending from an inner wall 1602 of the blade housing 1600. The blade housing bearing bead 1622 extends into s generally V-shaped opening or bearing race 3 540 formed in and extending radially into an outer wall of the 1514 of an annular body 1 10 of the rotary knife blade 1500 to support the blade 1500 for rotation about the axis of rotation R. The blade bearing race 1540 comprises two axtal!y spaced apart, generally fVustoconical, bearing faces 1542 which bear against the blade housing bead 1622 to support the blade both axiaily and radially, The bearing support structure of the bearing bead 1622 of the blade housing 1600 and the bearing race 1540 of the rotary knife blade 1500 define a cutting plane RP of the rotary knife blade 1500, which is substantially orthogonal to the blade central axis of rotation .

{00103] The mounting section ί 650 of the blade housing 1600 includes an angled split 16S2 and a pinion clearance region 1654. The pinion clearance region 1654 of the blade housing mounting section 1630 provides for clearance for a gear head 1406 " of a pinion gear 1404 of a drive train 3402 of the drive mechanism 1400. The angled spilt 1652 of the mounting section 1 50 is circumferenti liy offset from the pinion clearance region 1654 and provides for expansion of the blade housing diameter for purposes of changing the rotary knife blade 1500 when the blade has reached the end of its useful life. Specific details regarding an annular blade housing with an angle split and offset pinion clearance region are di closed in U.S. Pat. No. SMI ,692 to Whited ei aL issued March 4, 2014. U.S. Pat. No. 8,66.1 ,692 is assigned to the assignee of the present invention and is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

[00104] The rotary knife blade 1500, the blade housing 1600 » and the trim guide 1700, are all annular and, when assembled, define an overlapping sandwiched combination 3450 wherein the blade housing blade support section 1610 is radially sandwiched between, on the radial inside, the annular body 1 10 of the rotary knife blade 1500 and, on the radial outside, by a radially outwardly and axially upwardly extending rib 1751 of the guard section 1750 of the trim guide 1700. The rib 1751 includes a ffusloconical section 1752, A vertical extension 1754 of the guard section 1750 extends from an upper end 1751 a of the rib 1 75 1 and is disposed axiaiiy above the rib 17 1 . A radially in wardly extending lip 1770 of the guide section 1 70 extends from an upper end 1754a of the vertical extension 1754 in a radially inward direction. An angle subtended by the rib fr stoconicai section 1752 is greater than 1 W, while an angle subtended by the upner vertical extension 1754 and the lip 1770 are significantly les than ! SO^.

[ΟΟί OS] ROTARY KNIFE BLADE 1500

[00106] As best seen in Figures 29-3 i . the rotary knife biade 1 5O0 of the power operated rotary knife 1 100 of the second exemplary embodiment includes an inner wall 3502 and a radially spaced apart outer wall 1504 and an upper end i 506 and an axially spaced apart lover or bottom end 1508. The inner wall 1 02 defines a central opening of the blade 1 00. The biade 1 500 includes the annular body 1 30 which defines an inner wa!l 15 12 (defining part of the inner wall 1502 of the blade 1500), an outer wall 1514 (defining part of the outer wall 1504 of the blade ί 500), an upper end 1 16 (defining the upper end 1506 of the blade i 500} and a lower end 1518. The rotary knife blade 1500 further Includes the blade section I 550 extending axially downwardly arid radially inwardly (toward the blade axis of rotation R) from the lower end 151 8 of the 3,ν,γν,Λ?,? bodv 1 510. The blade section 1550 includes u. per end 1 552 adiacent the annular body lower end 153 8 and a lower end 1554 (defining the lower end 1508 of the blade 1500) and a generally frustoeonical wail 1556 extending therebetween.

[00107] The upper end 1516 of the annular body - 510, as mentioned bove, defines the driven gear 1520 of the blade 1 500. The driven gear 1520 comprises a set of gear teeth formed in a circumference adjacent the outer wall 1534 of the annular body. Adjacent the lower end 1518 of the annular body, the blade bearing race 540 defining frustoconical bearing surfaces 542 is formed in the outer wall 1514 of the annular body, as described above.

ΙΘΘ.108] The lower end 1554 of the blade section 1550 includes interrupted arc portions 1572 that define a lower edge 1509 of the blade 1500. The interrupted arc portions ί 572 are centered about the blade central axis of rotation R and, if connected and continued, would form a circle defining an inner diameter of the blade 1500 with a center on the axis of rotation R.

Typically, the interrupted arc portions 1572 would define a cutting edg of the blade, but, in the rotary knife 1 00, the cutting edge 1 90 of the blade is defined by a plurality of recessed, arcuate cutting portions 1580 within the plurality of notches 1560. internipting the arc portions 1572 are the plurality of notches 1560 formed at the lower end 1554 of the frasio conical wail 1 556 of the blade section J 550 and extending into the frustoconical wall : 556. As can best be seen in Figures 29 and 30. each of the notches of the plurality of notches 1560, when viewed in top plan view, defines a generally rectangular cavity 1561 defined by a peripheral wall 1562 surrounding a central open portion 3564 and defining the cavity 1563. The peripheral wail 1562 of each notch of the plurality of notches 1560. when viewed with respect to the- counterclockwise direction of rotation CCW of the rotar knife blade 1500. includes an angled leading portion or end 1566, a generally linear central portion 156S, and a hook-shaped or U-shaped trailing portion or end 1570.

[00109] As best seen in Figures 29 and 30, the trailing end 1570 of the peripheral wall 1562 includes an arcuate sharpened region 157] extending approximate ly from a transition segment 1569 of the peripheral wall 1562 bridging the linear central portion 156S and the trailing end 1570 to a termination point 1584 of the trailing end 1 70 located at the bottom edge 1 509 of the blade 1500, as defined by the start of the next interrupted arc portion 1572, The arcuate sharpened regions 1571. may extend to the bottom edge 1509 of the blade 1500 or be In close proximity to the bottom edge 1509. Both are contemplated by the present disclosure. The arcuate sharpened regions or cutting portions 3571 are concave (like the inside of a bowl) in that they are curving in or hollowed inwardly due to the hook-shape of the trailing end 1 70 of the peripheral wail 1 56?.. The arcuate sharpened regions 1571 of the plurality of notches 1 60 define the respectiv recessed arcuate cutting regions or portions 1580 of the blade 1500, The arcuate cutting portions 15S0 are recessed in that at least a portion of the arcuate sharpened region 1561 is within an interior region 1582 (that is, the centra! open portion 1564) defined by- each of the plurality of notches 1560. Sj It should be appreciated of course thai the arcuate cutting portions 1580 (and the associated sharpened regions 1571 ), instead of being arcuate (by virtue of the hook-shaped trailing end 1570 of the peripheral wall 1562), could he linear or convex and the present disclose contemplates such an alternate embodiment, in one exemplary embodiment of the rotary knife blade 1500. an inner diameter of the blade 1500, as defined by the interrupted arc portions ] 572 constituting the lower edge 1509 of the blade 2500, is approximately 3.704 in., while the outside diameter of the blade, defined by the radial outermost extent of the outer wall 151 of the annnkr body 1510 of the blade is approximately 5.092 in. The inner diameter of the blade 1500 is approx mately twice the radius RAD. schematically depicted in Figure 1 1. In one exemplary embodiment, a thickness of the interrupted arc portions 1572 is approximately 0,063 in.

Additionally, in one exemplary embodiment, the number notches in the plurality of notches 1 560 is six, each of which is spaced equi distantly about an inner perimeter or inner diameter of the blade 1500, each of the notches subtending an angle t (depicted schematically it) Figure 29) with respect to the central axis of rotation of approximately 32°.

{001111 TRIM GUIDE 1700

[0011.2] As can best be seen in Figures 32-35, the trim guide 3 700 of the power operated rotary knife 1 100, which is stationary with respect to the rotation of the- blade 3 500. includes an upper end 1702 and a lower end 1704 and defines the planar base 17 10 , the guide section ! 720 extending axially below and radially inwardly from the base 3 710, and the guard section 1750. including the radially outwardly a d upwardly extending rib 1751 , the vertical extension 3754 and the radially inwardly extending !ip 1770. As can best be seen in Figure 35, the guard section 1750 of the trim guide 1700 extends axially upwardly and radially outwardly from the base 1710. The fib 1751 of the guard section 1750 includes the frustoconical section 1752. The vertical extension 1 754 extends axially upwardly from the upper end 1751 a of the rib 1751. The lip 1770 extends radially inwardly from She upper end 1754a of the vertical extension 1752. The hp 1770 subtends an angle substantially equal to the angle subtended by the vertical extension 1752. The base 1710 includes the attachment tab 1 18 extending from a rearward portion 17 12 of the base 1710, The tab 1718 includes the aperture 1719. The trim guide 170O is releasably affixed to the bottom surface 1321 of the blade housing support region 1320 of the frame body 1320 by the threaded fastener 1800 that extends through the tab aperture 1719 and threads into the threaded opening 1321 a of the bottom surface 1321 of the blade housing support region 1320 of the frame body 131 . [00113] As can best be seen in Figure 35, the guide section 1720 of the trim guide 1 00 includes an upper end 3722 and a lower end 1724 and defines a guide section frustoconical wail 1721 , The frustoconical wall 1721 extends along the frusioconica! wall 1556 of the blade section 1550. The guide section 1720 of the trim guide 1700 includes interrupted arc portion 1738 circumferential!)' spaced apart by a plurality of notches 1730. In one exemplary embodiment, the notches of the plurality of notches 1 30 are spaced equidistant about the lower end 1 24 of the guide section 1720 and the number of notches 1730 is ten. The openings or cavities defined by each of the notches of the plurality of notches 1730 are generally a concave, slanted or skewed U-shape.

[00114] Unlike the trim guide 700 of the power operated rotary knife 100 of the first embodiment, the plurality of notches 1730 are disposed circumferentially in spaced-apart relationship about an entirety (that is around the entire 360 s circumference) of the lower end 1724 of the guide section 1720, That is, in the trim guide 700, the guide section 720 included the forward portion 725, subtending just over 180 degrees of the total anrmius defined by the trim guide 700. As shearing action for trimming of branches occurred in a region of the plurality of notches 730 of the guide section 720, for trimming branches, in the power operated rotary knife 100 of the first embodimen t, the operator needed to pull the power operated rotary kni fe 100 in & rearward or proximal direction RW along the handle assembly longi udinal axis LA toward himself or herself since the plurality of notches 730 were positioned in a forward portion 726 of the guide section 720.

[00 J.15] Advantageously, with the trim guide 1700 and the vacuum assembly 1 00 of the power operated rotary knife ί 100, the operator may move the power operated rotary knife 100 in any direction, i.e., toward the operator along the longitudinal axis LA of the handle assembly 1200 in the rearward or proximal direction RW, away from operator along the longitudinal axis LA of the handle assembly 1200 in the forward or distal direction FW, or anywhere

therebetween, as plurality of notches 730 are spaced about the entire 360" of the guide section 1720 and shearing action is therefore not limited to a forward portion of the guide section bat may take place at any circumferential position where a notch 1730 is disposed and shearing action occurs, as explained. Additionally and advantageously, the vacuum assembly 1900 functions to expeditiously and efficiently remove trimmed branch materials from the cutting opening CO region and away from the plant, keeping the plant and the plant bed areas clean and free from trimmed branch materials and possible diseases and other problems associated with leaving trimmed materials on the remaining branches of the plant or left to compost on the plant bed area.

[00116] The notches 1730 of the trim guide 1700 function to direct the plant branches to foe cut into recessed shearing portions 1740 defined by each of the plurality of notches 1730 of She trim guide 1700 wherein the recessed arcuate cutting portions 1 580 of the plurality of notches 1560 of the rotary knife blade 1500 cut the branches by shearing action as the blade 1500 rotates with respect to the stationary trim guide 1700. To cut or trim a branch and then evacuate the cut or severed portions of the branch, the power operated rotary knife 1 I 0O is positioned with respect to a plant branch to be cut or trimmed such thai the brands extends through the cutting opening CO defined by the power operated rotary knits 3 100, the operator then moves the knife ϊ 100 in a direction such that the branch is moved within the cutting opening CO and urged against th guide section 1720 of the trim guide 1700. Depending on the position of the branch within the cutting opening CO, the movement of the rotary knife 1 100 by the operator will move the branch into one of the plurality of notches 1730 of the trim guide guide section 1720. A cutting portion 1580 of the rotary knife blade 1500 will impact the branch within the interior region 1745 of the notch 1720, cutting the branch by a shearing action between the shearing portion 1740 of the trim guide notch 1720 at the leading end 1732 of the notch 1720 and the cutting portion 1580 of the blade section notch 1 60 at the trailing end 1570 of the notch 3560.

[001.1.7] A* best seen in figure 28, an extending distal portion 1725 of guide section 1720 extends axialiy below and radially inwardly beyond the lower edge 1 509 of the rotary knife blade 1500 and has two functions: ]) to direct a branch or branches into an interior region 1745 defined by one of the plurality of notches 1730 as the power operated rotary knife ] 100 is moved or manipulated by the operator to cut or trim a branch or branches within the central cutting opening CO of the k.nife 1 300; and 2} to guard the rotary knife blade 1 500 from inadvertent contact wish the ground or plastic mats or sheets positioned on the ground between rows of plants. The trim guide 1700 also includes the guard section i 750 inclu ding the peripheral rib 1751 which extends axialiy above and radially outwardly fro n the base 1710. The rib 1751 extends around most, but not ah of the total annulus defined by the trim guide 1700.

Additionally, the vertical extension 1754 and the lip 1770 extend axiali y upwardly and radially inwardly from the upper end ; 751 a of the rib 1751. The vertical extension 1754 and the Hp ] 770 . subtend an angle less than an angle subtended by the rib 1751. Both the rib 1751 , the vertical extension 3754 and the lip 1770 of the guard section 1750 function as gua ds to protect the blade 1500 from inadvertent contact with plastic mats, portions of plants that are not to be trimmed or cut, and the like. '

fOOl!S] As best seen in Figures 33-35, the guide section i 720 includes the plurality of notches 1730 formed the lower end 1724 and extending into the frystioconical wall 1721 , The lower end 1724 of the guide section 1720 also includes interrupted arc portions 1 738 that define a lower edge 1709 of the trim guide 1700. The interrupted are portions 1738 are centered about the blade central axis of rotation R and, if connected and continued, would form a circle defining an inner diameter of the trim guide 1700 with a center on the axis of rotation . Interrupting the arc portions 1738 of the guide section 1720 are the plurality of notches 3730 formed at the lower end 1724 of the frustoconical wall 1721 of the guide section 1720 and extending into the frustoconicai wall 1721 , As can best be seen in Figure 33, each of the notches of the plurality of notches 1730, when viewed in top plan view, defines a slightly slanted, concave U-shaped cavity 1741 defmed by a peripheral wall 1742 surrounding a central open portion ί 743 and defining the cavity ] 743 , The central open portion 1743 corresponds to the interior region 1745 of the notch 1730, The peripheral wall 1742, when viewed with respect to the counterclockwise direction of rotation CCW (Figure 2.6) of the rotary knife blade i SOO, includes an angled leading portion or end 1732 (Figure 33), a central portion 1733. and an angled trailing portion or end 1734. The central portion 1733, which is generally arcuate, defines a radially innermost section or region i 4^¾ oi me peripheral wan i 42.

[00119] The angled leading end 1734 of the peripheral wail 1 42 defines a shearing region puntOu i itu eAicnuUig hvpi VAiu iaiSiy -ΐ υΠ) a ιεΐ ϋ ΐιΠαΐΐΌΠ '-'i H L I / *t / at uic t i.i ui the guide section 1720 where the next adjacent interrupted are portion 3 738 commences and extending to a transition point 1748 along the central portion 1733 of the peripheral wall 1742 where the angled leading end 1732 terminates. The transition point 3 748 being along the central portion 1733 is one of the radially innermost points of the peripheral wall 1742. When viewed in top plan view, trie shearing portions 3740 defined by the leading ends 1 ' 734 of the respective plurality of notches ί 730 define a linear segment 1 740a over most of their extent moving radially inwardly from the lower end 3724 of the guide section 1720 and then transition into a shorter arcus'e w ii5 l l - 747 is fi acheii The shearing portions 3740 of the plurality of notches 1730 of the trim guide 700 are recessed in that at least a portion of the shearing portion 1740 is within an interior region 1745 {that is, the central open portion 1743) defined by each of the plurality of notches 1 730. [00120| As explained above, the cutting action of the power operated rotary knife 1 100 occurs through the combination I4§0 of the rotating rotary knife blade 1500 and the stationary trim guide 1700. As the blade 1500 rotates about its central axis of rotation R, the shearing portions 1740 of the guide section notches i 730 come into overlapping axial alignment with the arcuate cutting portions 1580 of the blade section notches 1560. Additionally, ihe central open portion 1564 or interior region ί 5S2 of each of the plurality of notches 1560 of the blade section 1550 of the rotary knife blade 1500 come into overlapping axial alignment with the central open portion 1743 or interior region 1745 of each of the plurality of notches 1 730 as the biade 1500 rotates about the axis of rotation R. This transitory overlapping alignment of the central open - portions 1564, 1743 or Interior regions 1582, 1745 define transitory cutting pockets 1799, (Such transitory cutting pockets 1799 are depicted schematically, for example, in Figures 26 and 27. The uncut brancii or branches directed into a transitory pocket 1799 by the guide section 1 720 of the trim guide 1700, that is, guided into a trim guide notch 1730, will be rapidly and efficiently cut by the shearing action of the rotating cutting portions 15S0 of the blade 1500 passing over the stationary shearing portions 740 of the trim guide 1700 as ihe rotary knife blade 1500 continues its high speed rotation in the counterclockwise direction CC . The cutting pockets 1799 are transitory in that as the blade 1 S00 continues to rotate about its axis of rotation R, the blade 1500 rotates with respect to ihe stationary trim guide 1700. Thus, as would be understood, new cutting pockets 1799 are formed by overlapping interior regions 1 582, 1 74 S and then disappear as cutting of the branch or branches with the cutting pockets 1799 occurs by shearing action by virtue of the rotating cutting portions 1580 of the blade 1500 passing over the stationary shearing portions 1740 of the trim guide 1700. Thus, as the blade 1500 rotates about the centra! axis of rotation R. new cutting pockets 1 99 are constantly formed and old cutting pockets 1799 disappear as cutting occurs arid branches in the cutting pockets are cut by shearing action.

[00121} in one exemplary embodiment of the trim, guide 1 700 of the power operated rotary knife i 100, an inner diameter of ihe trim guide 1700, as defined by the interrupted arc portions 1738 constituting the lower edge 1709 of the trim guide 1700» is approximately 3 ,808 in., while a diameter defined by a radially innermost point of each of the plurality of notches 1730 of the guide section 1720 is approximately 4.631 in. Additionally, in one exemplary embodiment the number notches in ihe plurality of notches 1730 is ten, spaced about the entirety of the 360'- of the central opening C03 of the trim guide 1700 and circumferential!)' spaced apart by ten interrupted are portions 1738 wherein each of the notches of the plurality of notches 1730 subtends an angle β (depicted schematically in Figure 33} with respect to the central axis of rotation R of approximately 21 °,

[00122] Advantageously, with the trim guide 1700 arid the vacuum assembly 1 00 of the power operated rotary knife 1 100, the operator may move the power operated rotary knife 100 in any direction, i.e., a rearward or proximal direction RW toward the operator along the longitudinal axis LA of the handle assembly 1200, a forward or distal direction FW away from operator, or any direction therebetween, as plurality of notches 1730 are spaced about the entire 360° of the guide section 1720 and shearing action is therefore not limited to a forward portion of the guide section but may take place at any circumferential position where a notch 1730 is disposed and shearing action occurs, as explained. Additionally and advantageously, the vacuum assembly 1 00 functions to expeditiously and efficiently remove trimmed branch materials from the cutting opening CO region and away from the plant, keeping the plant arid the plant bed areas clean and free from trimmed branch materials and possible issues associated with leaving trimmed materials on the remaining branches of the plant or dropping to the ground and decaying on the ground in the plant bed area.

[00123] VACUUM A SSEMBLY 1 00

[00124] As best seen in Figures 20-23 and 36-40, the vacuum assembly includes the vacuum connector 1 10, which, as described above is also part of the head assembly 3300 of the power operated rotary knife 1 00, a flexible vacuum hose 1 90, which i s coupled to an upper or exit end 1925 of the vacuum connector 3910 by a damp 1 95, In one exemplary embodiment, the vacuum hose is a 4 in, diameter flexible hose or duct which defines the interior region 1992 of the vacuum hose 1990.

[00125] The vacuum connector 1910 has a generally inverted funnel shape and includes the lower, larger diameter lower mounting section 1 50 and an upper, reduced diameter cylindrical section 1 20, bridged by a tapered middle section 1940 that necks down the diameter between the mounting section 1950 and the cylindrical section 1 20. An inner wail or inner surface 591 1 of the vacuum connector 1910 defines the inverted funnel-shaped interior region 1912 that is in fluid communication with the interior region 1992 of the vacuum hose 1 90. An outer wall or outer surface 1933 is radially spaced from the Inner wall i 91 1 and generally conforms to the shaped of the inner wall 191 1 , Advantageously, the necked down configuration of the vacuum connecto 1910 provides ibr the funnel shape of the interior region 1912 that proceeds from a larger diameter at a generally cylindrical entry end 1 1 6 of the vacuum connector 1910, where trimmed branches/foliage material enter the interior region 1 12 of the vacuum connec tor 1910 from she cutting opening CD of the power operated rotary knife 1 100 defined by the assembled combination 1450 of the blade 1500, blade housing 1600 and trim guide 1700, to a cylindrical exit or upper end 1 14 of the vacuum connector 1 10, where trimmed branches and foliage material exit the interior region 1 12 of the vacuum connector 1910. Additionally, the Inner surface 191 3 of the vacuum connector 1 10 is smooth, with minimal discontinuities, to facilitate flow of trimmed foliage materials from the entry end 1 16 to the exit end 1914 of the vacuum connector 1 10. The vacuum connector 1 10 is centered about a central axis VCA extending though the interior region 1 12 of the vacuum connector 1 10. When the vacuum connector 1910 is coupled to the head assembly 1300 of the power operated rotary knife ί 100, the central axis VCA of the vacuum connector 1910 is substantially parallel to but slightly offset by a radial distance schematically shown as distance d in Figure2 ! , from the central axis of rotation R of the rotary knife blade 1500. In one exemplary embodiment, an offset distance d between the rotary knife blade axis of rotation R and the vacuum connector central axis VAC is 0.200 in.

[00126] The lower mounting section 1950 of the vacuum connector 1910 includes a lower end 1952. The lower end ] 952 of the mounting section 1950 includes a lower edge 1958, The lower end 1 952 of the mounting section i 950 corresponds to a lower end 1 916 of the vacuum connector 1910. The lower edge 1 58 of the lower end 1952 of the mounting section 1950, which corresponds to a lower edge 1918 of the lower end 1916 of the vacuum connector S O i O, is defined by an axialiy lowest peripheral edge 1979 of a C-shaped iate.h 1 72 of the a trim guide interface portion 1970. A generally proximal portio 1954 of the lower end 1952 incl udes a clamp interface portion I 60, while a generally distal portion 1 59 of the lower end 1952 includes the trim guide interface portion 1970. The clamp interface portion 1960 extends peripherally between approximate endpoints 1954a, 1954b of the proximal portion 1954, while the trim guide interface portion I 60 includes the remainder of the lower end 1952. The arcuate trim guide interface portion 1 70 and the clamp interface portion I 960, advantageously function in co-acting relationship to releasably secure the vacuum connector 1 910 to the head assembly 1300 of the power operated rotary knife 1 100.

[00127] The arcuate trim guide interface portion 1970 of the lower mounting section 1950 of the vacuum connector 1910 includes the radially extending arcuate ri m portion 1971 that seats on the rib 17 1 , the vertical extension 1754 and the lip 1770 of the guard section J 750 of the trim guide 1700. As can be seen in Figure 21 , more specifically, extending from the annular rim 1953 of the trim guide interface portion .1 70 of the vacuum connector 1 10 is the C-shaped latch 1 72 that hooks over and thereby attaches the vacuum connector J 910 to the guard settlor. 1 750 of the trim guide 1700., acting in cooperation with the elarnp interface portion 1 60. The arcuate trim guide interface portion 1 70 extends radially outwardly from and axia!ly below the entry opening 1 14 of the vacuum connector 1 10 and subtends an angle of approximately 270° with respect tc the central axis VCA of the vacuum connector 1 10. Tha t is, the trim guide interface portion 1970 (approximately 270°) and the c!amp interface portion 1 60 (approximatel 90°) circumscribe the entirety of the circular lower peripheral surface of the vacuum connector 1910 with respect to the vacuum connector central axis VCA,

[0 ί 28] The C-shaped latch 1972 of the trim guide interface portion 1970 is located at and extends from a lower end 1956 of the distal portion 1952 of the lower mounting section 3950 of the vacuum connector 3910, The C-shaped latch 1972 includes an upper horizontal section 1973, a vertical section 1975, and a lower frustocoiiical section 1 77. When the trim guide interface portion I960 is latched to the trim guide 1700, a horizontal wall 3974 of the upper horizontal section 1973 bears against an upper surface 1772 of the radially inwardly extending lip 3770 of the guard section I 7S0 irs the trim guide 1700, a vertical wall 3976 of the middle vertical section 1975 bears against an outer surface 3753 of the vertical extension 1754 of the guard section 1750 ofthe trim guide 1700. and an angled wall 1 78 bears against the outer surface 1753 ofthe frustoconicai section 1752 ofthe rib 1751 ofthe guard section 1750 of the trim guide Ϊ 700, The axialiy lowest peripheral edge 1979 of the C-shaped latch 1972 defines the lower edge 191.8 of the lower end 1936 of the vacuum connector 1 1 0 and the lower edge 3958 ofthe lower end 1952 of mounting section 3950.

[00129] Additionally, as best seen in Figure 40, the clamp interface portion I 60 of the proximal portion 1954 of the Sower mountin section 3950 includes a radially protruding boss 1962 having a planar lower surface 3962a mid a cylindrical projection 1962b extending axialiy upwardly. The boss 1962 defines a vertical opening 1963. A threaded connector 1980, preferably a thumb screw, extends through the boss vertjcal opening 1 63 and threads into a threaded vertically extending opening 1.342 in an upper surface 3340 o the clamp 1332 of the clamping assembly 3330 to secure the vacuum connector 1 10 to the clamp 3332 ofthe clamp assembly 3330. Staled another way, the threaded fastener/ thumb screw 1 80 extends through the vertically oriented opening 1963 of the radially extending boss 1962 of the clamp interface portion I 960 ofthe mounting section 1 50 and threads into the threaded opening 1342 formed in the upper surface 1340 of the clamp member 1332 to secure the vacuum connector 1910 to the clamp member 1332 and thereby couple the vacuum connector 1910 to the frame body 1 330. [00130] The damp interface portion 1 60 further includes a pair of axialiy extending pedestals 1964a, 2964b ckcuroferentia!Iy fiar ing the boss 1962, The pair of pedestals 1964a, 1 64b fit into and engage respective ones of a pair of axialiy extending slots 1335 formed in the proximal wall 1333 of the clamp 1332. The clamp interface portion 1 960 further includes a contoured openin 1.966 sized and shaped to engage the upper surface .1 340 of the clamp 1332. The contoured opening 1966 is defined by the lower edge 1958 of the l ower end 1952 of the vacuum connector 1910 in the region of the clamp interface portion 1 960, The contoured opening 1966 of the clamp interface portion 1960 comprises a pair of lateral contoured openings 1966a, 1966b and a central contoured opening 1 66c. The contoured opening 1966a is adjacent the pedestal 1 64a, while the contoured opening 1 62b is adjacent the pedestal 1964b. The central contoured opening 1966c, which includes the generally planar lower surface 1 62a of the boss 1 62, engages a central portion 1341 of the upper surface 1340 of the clamp 1332. The contoured opening 1962 is defined by a lower peripheral edge 1 64 of the lower mounting section 1950 in the region of the clamp 1332. The peripheral edge 1964 bears against the upper surface 1 340 of the clamp 1332 along a region of contact corresponding to the clamp interface portion 1960, that is, the portion 1954 of the lower end 1952 of the mounting section 1950 of the vacuum connector 1910 corresponding to the clanrp interface portion 1 960 to provide a seal between the vacuum connector 3910 and the clamp upper surface 1 340 to mitigate loss of vacuum pressure which would otherwise occur if there was a gap or space between the vacuum connector 1 30 and the upper surface of ihe clamp 1332.

[00131 ] As used herein, terms of orientation and/or direction such as front rear, forward, rearward, distal, proximal, distaliy, proxirnaily, upper, lower, inward, outward. Inwardly, outwardly, upwardly, downwardly, horizontal, horizontally, vertical, vertically, ax ial, radial, longitudinal, axialiy, radially, longitudinally, etc,, are provided for convenience purposes and relate generally to the orientation shown in the Figures and/or discussed in the Detailed

Description. Such orientation/direction terms are not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure, this application, and/or the invention or inventions described therein, and/or any of the claims appended hereto. Further, as used herein, the terms compri e, comprises, and comprising are taken to specify the presence of stated features, elements, integers, steps or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, elements, integers, steps or components.

[00132] What have been described above are examples of the present invention. It is, of course, not possible to describe every conceivable combination of components or methodologies for purposes of describing ihe present invention, but one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that many further combinations and permutations of the present invention are possible. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace ail such alterations, modifications and variations that fall within ihe spirit and scope of the appended claims.